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22 Ways to Save Money And Live A Better Life

22 Ways to Save Money And Live A Better Life
Jennifer Leach Mar 6, 2020
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

To find more money in your budget, you can take two routes: save money, and increase your income.

Saving money is something you can do right away to see immediate results. You can take steps today to lower your spending and save more.

Increasing your income is a great route to take, as well, but can take longer. It can take you time to find a source of additional income and how much you can make could be less in your control than cutting costs.

Here are some awesome tricks to help you save money and live a better life.

The Best Ways to Cut Your Bills and Save Money

  • Saving on Entertainment
  • Saving on Essentials
  • Growing Your Income

How to Save on Entertainment Costs

This is the category where you can make the most impact on your budget.

You can save on entertainment in so many ways, and scrap your entire entertainment budget if you need to.

Entertainment and fun are important, but they don’t have to be expensive.

Cutting back in this area still lets you have fun — you’ll just do it without breaking the bank. And these changes do not have to be permanent.

Saving money is often goal-driven, so you can change your savings plan as you reach your milestones.

1. Embrace No-Spend Days (or Weekends)

A no-spend day is a day where you don’t spend any money.

This might sound easier than it is, because many people spend money daily without even realizing it.

Here are some common expenses you might spend your money on without thinking about it:

  • Gas
  • Car wash.
  • Lunch, snacks, or coffee.
  • Odds and ends at the store before or after work.
  • Online shopping.

A no-spend day might take some real will power.

If it sounds easy, why not challenge yourself and do a full no-spend weekend?

You can experience a fun, fruitful weekend without spending money.

What can you do on a Saturday with no money?

The thought of a moneyless weekend may send shivers down your spine. After all, the weekend is a time to have fun, sit back, and relax.

A lot of people want to use it to have a good time and recover from a busy work week. But you don’t have to spend money to have fun.

Here are some ways to enjoy a no-spend weekend:

  • Go to the library.
  • Go on a picnic.
  • Exercise.
  • Take your kids to the park.
  • Take your dog to the dog park.
  • Go bike riding.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go hiking.
  • Go camping.
  • Explore a park trail.
  • Watch free movies at home.
  • Spend time with friends at their house or your house.
  • Host a potluck party at your place.
  • Attend a free festival.
  • Attend free music in the park.
  • Attend free community concerts.

The list goes on! There are a ton of free activities to do.

Explore your area, and check out some free events happening that you can partake in to get your fill of entertainment without spending money.

2. Cut the Cable

This might be shocking to you at first, but you can do it, and it can save you a lot of money.

When I cut my cable TV service and replaced it with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, my $220-per-month bill shrank to around $20 per month. That’s a $200 savings!

Is cutting the cord really cheaper?

Yes!

You’ll find many streaming TV providers can range from $6 to $60 per month, which is an incredible savings compared to cable TV, which can soar to $350-per-month or higher.

You don’t have to give up your favorite channels or television programs to save money. You can get most of them through more affordable streaming services.

Cutting the cable comes with many unexpected perks aside from saving money every month.

You’ll no longer pay for multiple cable boxes throughout your home.

And streaming services are typically available online and through mobile apps, so you can take streaming TV everywhere you go, on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

What’s the best alternative to cable?

You have tons of money-saving cable TV alternatives:

  • Streaming service subscriptions, including Netflix, Hulu, and network apps.
  • Rentals and purchases through iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon.
  • Check out free movies and TV shows from your library.
  • Free videos on YouTube.

How can I reduce my cable bill?

If you just can’t go without cable or you’re under contract, here are six ways to lower your bill right now:

  1. Reduce the number of cable boxes in your home.
  2. Remove premium channels.
  3. Remove DVR from your subscription.
  4. Bundle cable, internet, and phone services.
  5. Negotiate a lower rate with your cable provider.
  6. Read your bill to keep an eye on fees, and dispute them when they appear.

Reduce the number of cable boxes

Cable boxes can cost around $10 per box per month, so if you have four boxes in your home, that’s $40 per month.

This is how many boxes I had in my home before I pulled the plug.

Cut back on the number of boxes for instant monthly savings.

My cable provider had an app available for smart TVs. Find out whether yours has a similar option, and use the app instead of boxes to save money.

Remove premium channels

Premium cable TV channels are subscription channels like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.

They can also include things like sports, documentary, and kids channels.

They can each cost as much as $20 extra per month. Remove them from your cable plan, and watch your bill drop.

Remove DVR from your subscription

Do you use digital video recording (DVR) for television? This service can cost around $5 to $8 per month.

Instead, cut it, and catch a replay of the show you missed. Or take advantage of on-demand programming, which many cable providers offer.

Bundle services

Combining cable TV, internet, and phone can save you money on the cost of TV.

This was the chief reason my family stayed with cable so long. We had a bundle, and, although the TV service made up the largest portion at around $200, it seemed like the cheapest option.

If you subscribe to your internet, television, and other services separately, try combining them with a single service provider to see how much money you can save.

For us, the bundling allowed us to save the amount we paid for internet, so it was like we were getting free internet.

Negotiate a lower rate

Call your cable provider to ask for a discount. It’s just that simple and can save you a ton of money.

You could also compare options, and let your provider know you plan to move to a competitor with a lower price. This will usually get you an offer for a lower price, and you won’t have to switch providers.

How I lowered my cable bill through negotiation

I used to call my cable provider every six months to ask for a lower bill, and I got a discount 100% of the time.

I would usually get a limited-time special that would last for six to 12 months.

When the special was over, I would call back and get a new deal. I did this for years, until I moved out of the area.

Read your bill 

Look at your bill, and dissect it to uncover hidden fees and costs that could be money in your pocket.

If you find fees that don’t make sense or were charged in error, bring it up to your cable provider.

I noticed an extra fee on my cell phone bill after six months with a new provider. It caught my attention, because I was told the fee would be waived for the first year when I signed up.

I was able to get a refund and stop the charge for the remainder of the promotional period.

Make this a habit with all your bills, and see how much you can save.

3. Use Discounted Gift Cards

Use a gift card to pay for nights out with the family or date night.

Costco offers gift cards for up to 25% off, which can save you $25 on a $100 gift card.

For example, you can get a $100 gift card from your favorite steak house from Costco and only pay $75 for it.

How can I get discounted gift cards?

Other than Costco, here are some places where you can snag discounted gift cards:

 

You can also earn free gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and other companies by participating in “get paid to” websites.

These sites pay you to do small tasks like:

  • Completing online surveys.
  • Online shopping.
  • Playing games.
  • Watching videos.
  • Discovering stuff online.

Each task helps you earn rewards you can redeem for gift cards.

What is the best discount card site?

You can check out any of the sites above, mostly gift card marketplaces.

A gift card marketplace brings buyers and sellers together to buy and sell unwanted or used gift cards.

Sellers may have received a gift card for a brand they don’t like as a present. Rather than keep the card and not use it, they can sell it at a discount and use the cash however they want.

Buyers come to the site to find great deals on gift cards.

This is a great way to still enjoy eating out while saving money.

4. Stop Gym Memberships

Gym memberships can be expensive and a simple place to save money. There are free ways to exercise all around you.

I only used my last gym membership two or three times a year. At $25 per month, I was totally wasting money.

Many gym memberships come with a contract, so you get stuck paying the monthly fee for a period, even if you stop using the gym.

Here are some free ways to get exercise in:

  • Jogging.
  • Walking.
  • Bike riding.
  • Walking your dog.
  • Running in the park with your kids.
  • Swimming.
  • Home workouts.
  • Lifting weights at home. Use canned goods and other items around the house if you don’t have weights!

Using gyms for free

I had a friend who’d often get a free pass to gyms in our area and take advantage of free services for seven to 30 days. That’s a sneaky way to take advantage of gym services for free.

Another friend would just use a free friend pass from their buddy who had a membership.

A lot of gyms let you bring a friend for free. If you happen to have a friend with a gym membership, ask for a free friend pass.

You might also have access to gym and fitness spaces at work, community groups, or local clubs.

Take advantage of workplace fitness amenities

Many workplaces offer employees free access to a gym or fitness room on campus.

Aside from three gyms at my former workplace, employees had access to on-site sports courts for tennis, basketball, volleyball and more, and free sports leagues to join.

5. Manage Pet Costs

Pets can be very expensive.

My cat’s vet bills last year exceeded $300 per clinic visit! In total, I spent more than $1,000 on pet care during the year.

My sister spent more than $3,000 last year, because her cat needed surgery. She eventually had to give the cat up because the rising health costs.

If you have a pet, here are some ways to keep costs down:

  • Groom them at home.
  • Exercise your pets by playing with them and taking regular long walks.
  • Make homemade pet food, like these recipes for cat food and dog food.
  • Try natural flea repellents to save money on flea medicine.

Aim to keep your pet healthy through diet and exercise to avoid unnecessary and costly vet visits and treatment.

Saving on Essentials

Here are 11 money-saving ideas for staples in your life, like rent, food, utilities, and bills.

6. Negotiate Your Rent

Did you know you can do this? Call your landlord, and ask for a reduction in rent.

This works especially well if you’ve been a long-term tenant, two or more years.

Or use the tactic when moving into a new place. You can often get the best deal if you negotiate lower rent up front.

When our family moved to a new city a few years ago, we worked with a realtor who shared some landlord secrets that could help you negotiate lower rent.

You should be a desirable tenant with a stable work history and strong rental history. You might also be more attractive if you have a family, have no pets, or if you’re willing to pay more up front.

Landlords find families lower risk than singles or roommates. Tenants without pets are also lower risk, because landlords don’t have to worry about pet damage to the property.

If you’re willing to pay a larger deposit or multiple months of rent up front, you may be able to negotiate a lower monthly rate.

Most things in life are negotiable, and rent is definitely one of them!

How to Negotiate with Your Mortgage Lender

If you own your home, try negotiating your monthly payment with your mortgage lender. You may have several options:

  • Refinancing.
  • Lowering your monthly payment.
  • Qualifying for mortgage-reduction programs through the servicer or your local government.
  • Splitting your mortgage payment into multiple smaller payments per month.

7. Negotiate Your Utilities

Call your utility provider to ask for a lower utility payment.

Utility providers and bill providers in general want to work with you, because it increases their chances of getting paid.

It costs more money for them to get new customers than it does for them to keep you.

To save on electricity, many areas offer a free energy-saving meter you can have installed to use less energy and save money. Also watch out for simple ways to cut back on energy vampires by unplugging appliances you don’t need running when you leave the house.

8. Consolidate Your Debts

You might save money by consolidating credit card debt, student loans, and other debts.

This is how it works:

You combine multiple high-interest credit accounts into one lower-interest account. This could:

  • Lower the monthly payment.
  • Reduce the interest rate.
  • Save money in the long run.
  • Help you pay off the debt faster.
  • Make your debt repayment more convenient.

It’s super convenient to make one monthly payment compared to making multiple payments throughout the month to different servicers.

Plus, consolidating debts can help you save money by reducing the interest rate and helping you pay off your debt faster.

For example, you might have three high-interest credit cards at:

  • 10% APR
  • 8.9% APR
  • 14.9% APR

If you consolidate all three cards into one debt-consolidation loan at 5%, the balances would accrue less interest, and you could save money.

Where to find debt-consolidation loans

You can check with your local bank or look online for personal loans to consolidate your debt.

Sofi is great for student loan refinancing.

Lending Club is a marketplace that lets you compare loan offers based on your needs, so you can pick the best option.

9. Save on Gas

Here are some ideas to save money if you have to drive:

  • Use a gas card.
  • Use a rewards credit card.
  • Use gas apps to find the lowest price near you.
  • Carpool.

Gas card savings

With fuel-rewards cards like the Walmart gas card, you get a cheaper rate by the gallon when you use the card to buy gas at a participating gas station.

It works like a reloadable gift card, and it’s free to sign up.

You just load the balance and it’s a huge benefit.

Rewards credit card

Credit cards with rewards are ripe with opportunities to save on gas.

Some credit card companies offer extra rewards for shopping, gassing up, travel, and more. Some also let you redeem rewards specifically for discounts on gas or other areas.

Carpool to save money on gas

My former employer offered a carpool program.

There were five people per car. Each person would drive once a week and ride four days a week.

It offered huge savings on gas and a great opportunity to connect with coworkers and become friends.

If your employer doesn’t facilitate this officially, ask a few coworkers if they’d like to carpool with you, or use a carpool app like Moovit to find others in your area.

Other Ways to Save

Here are seven other cool ways to save money that are right under your nose.

10. Dry Clean at Home

Did you know you can save money on dry cleaning by doing it yourself at home?

How do you dry clean clothes at home?

Take a look at this secret strategy from USA Today:

First, run your clothes through a cold, gentle cycle in your washing machine with mild detergent.

As soon as the wash ends, grab the clothes and lay flat to dry.

For hand washing, use a clean sink filled with cold water with a small amount of mild detergent.

Or get an at-home dry cleaning kit for your garments that require dry cleaning.

Do you really have to dry clean?

Wondering if dry cleaning is really necessary?

If your clothing label says “dry clean only, “ that’s the recommended way to care for the garment, not the only way to clean it.

Fabrics that usually do best with dry cleaning are silk, velvet, wool, taffeta, and acetate.

Cotton, cashmere, acrylic, polyester, and other fabrics can fare pretty well with a regular wash at home.

11. Save on Energy at Home

Try these energy-saving tips:

  • Set a dedicated laundry day.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics, like your toaster and television, when you’re not using them.
  • Keep the thermostat warmer when you’re away from home.
  • Winterize your home by covering windows and doors with bubble wrap to stop cold drafts.
  • Invest in smart upgrades, like power strips and thermostats, that adjust settings automatically to save energy.

According to the National Resource Defense Council, Americans spend $19 billion per year in energy costs from vampire appliances and electronics. That’s around $165 per household per year!

Put this money back in your pocket by trying some of these tips above.

12. Avoid Rush Hour Traffic

Rush hour is a horrible time to be driving.

It’s frustrating, overwhelming, and an unpleasant start to your day.

And all the starting and stopping of the car is terrible on your fuel costs.

Ask if you can change your work schedule so you don’t have to travel during this time. Or look into working at home.

If you must commute during rush hour, try these five hacks to save money on your drive:

  • Maintain your vehicle.
  • Improve your fuel efficiency.
  • Pay less for gas.
  • Try carpooling.
  • Avoid toll roads.

Taking care of your car

Maintaining your vehicle just means taking good care of your car. These means:

  • Travel light. Don’t tow heavy things with you when you don’t need them.
  • Change your air filter.
  • Get your oil changed.
  • Have an annual maintenance check.

Good care can save you a ton!

Many people ignore oil changes, for example, and this alone can cost you thousands in damage to the car.

Improving the fuel efficiency of your car

You can improve your car’s fuel efficiency by:

  • Using less air conditioning.
  • Lightening the load by removing storage racks and anything that can weigh the car down.
  • Emptying the trunk.

Avoiding toll roads

Toll roads can cost a lot of money.

Save money in toll fees by taking an alternative route.

Apps like Waze help you find routes that avoid toll roads.

13. Save Money Through DIY

DIY everything for some huge savings.

This includes DIY for gift giving, house cleaning, cooking, home repairs, gardening, and more. Any money you spend on these services is an easy place to save money.

Head to Google or YouTube to find free tutorials on how to DIY just about anything you need.

tutorial on how to apply a fix and try it yourself, saving money on a costly repairman.

14. Switch from Monthly to Annual Payments

Many merchants and creditors offer discounts if you make annual payments instead of monthly.

For example, insurance carriers, such as your auto insurance provider, may offer a lower premium if you pay twice a year or annually, instead of monthly or quarterly.

If you can afford the lump payment, it’s worth looking into to save money.

15. Barter Services

Trade services with neighbors, family, and friends by offering your skills in exchange for a service you need, like babysitting.

You could offer to babysit your neighbor’s kids one night in exchange for them babysitting your kids one night, so you both save money.

This can work for any service you’re comfortable offering, like handyman services and auto repair.

A friend of mine had a group of peers that he would turn to for his needs. Everyone in the group had skills.

One person was an accountant, another an auto mechanic, another an HVAC technician.

They would trade services among the group, helping each other out and saving money.

How to Grow Your Income to Save and Live a Better Life

A great way to increase your rate of savings is to increase your income

16. Pick up a Side Hustle

There are a ton of side hustles you can do part-time, flexibly, and around your current schedule.

Check out our articles for ideas:

People love side hustles because they usually require few to little skills or educational background required.

Many side hustles require few extra skills, and they give you tons of independence, flexibility in your schedule, and even on-demand pay.

For driver-based jobs where you work from your car, try Uber, Lyft, Doordash, or UberEATS.

Want to work with animals? Look to pet sit or walk dogs with Rover or Wag.

If you’re interested in making money flipping stuff, look at flea market flipping, website domain flipping, or website flipping.

Side hustles are great for short-term and long-term income, depending on your interests.

17. Monetize Your Hobby

Can you turn your passion profitable? These hobbies can easily turn into services or products you can sell:

  • Sewing.
  • Knitting.
  • Baking.
  • Learning languages.
  • Home decorating.

You can sell your crafts in marketplaces like Etsy.

You can also create your own website, where you can drive customers to make purchases online.

18. Ask for a Raise

Work up the courage to ask your boss for a raise.

A neat trick I learned about being comfortable asking for things at work is called the coffee experiment.

Here’s how it works:

Go to your favorite coffee shop, walk up to the counter to make your order and before you pay, ask for a 10% discount.

This is a great exercise to help you get comfortable asking for things.

A lot of people cringe at the thought of it, but it helps you work on the skill. And you might even walk away with a discount!

I’ve gotten into the habit with just about every store I go to.

I went to school for nearly a decade, studying for multiple postgraduate degrees, so I got used to asking for a student discount.

Then, when I married my husband who joined the military, I became comfortable asking for a military discount.

Try it, and see how you do.

19. Ask for Overtime

Another way to boost your income fast is asking for overtime hours from your employer if you’re paid hourly and not exempt.

This option doesn’t require learning additional skills, getting acquainted with a new job, training, additional commute, or any application-and-interview process like starting a new job.

Overtime pay is typically 150% your hourly pay for work over 40 hours per week, so the income potential here is huge if you’ve got the time to put in.

20. Do a Weekend Job

Taking on a second job on weekends only defines a clear separation between your primary work and the second job, which a lot of people like.

A weekend job can come in many forms, including at places like:

  • Retail stores.
  • Restaurants.
  • Community centers or organizations like the library or church.

You can also find weekend work doing things like babysitting or pet sitting.

Outdoor work like lawn mowing, landscaping, gardening, washing cars, and house cleaning are some good options if you want to be active on the weekends.

21. Airbnb Your Space (Even If You Rent)

For additional income, list your space for guests on Airbnb.

This is a great complement to your current streams of income, and it’s relatively hands-off. Some hosts are so successful they do it full time.

How does Airbnb work?

As an Airbnb host, you’ll let guests stay in your home.

It’s like offering your place up as lodging for travelers. To get started:

  • List your space for free.
  • Decide how you want to host.
  • Welcome your first guest.

You can offer your space as short-term lodging, including a garage space, spare bedroom, or your entire house. You could even list a houseboat or RV.

Think about these examples:

  • Listing your entire home weekends for $250 per night could equal $2,000 a month.
  • Listing a spare bedroom at $80 per night for 20 nights per month could equal $1,600 a month.
  • Listing your spare bedroom on weekends at $80 per night could equal $640 a month.

You can list on Airbnb if you own your place or if your rental allows it.

For rentals, it’s called rental arbitrage. Airbnb offers guidance to talk to your landlord about it:

  • Know the rules and regulations.
  • Make a great first impression.
  • Let them know Airbnb supports you.
  • Create rules that work for everyone.
  • Get the support of neighbors.
  • Keep everyone in the loop.
  • Talk about Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be confident.

What are the advantages of hosting on Airbnb?

Airbnb hosting offers an easy, potentially lucrative income stream that doesn’t require much of your time.

22. Renting Out Your RV

The Airbnb of the RV space is a company called RVshare.

If you have an RV, class A motorhome, travel trailer, or toy hauler, you may be able to rent it out to earn some extra money.

Because a lot of RV owners primarily use their RV during travel season, it sits unused for most of the year in a driveway or storage.

Why not monetize it?

You can host guests in your RV and rent it out to make extra money throughout the year.

Advantages of Saving Money

Saving money is no simple feat. But stashing up some green for future use has lots of benefits, including:

  • It lets you enjoy financial freedom. There’s so much peace in knowing you have a buffer if ever you need funds urgently or experience an emergency.
  • Use it for big purchases, like a new or used car.
  • Pursue higher education without going into debt.
  • Cover expenses if you’re planning on tying the knot, without taking on credit card debt.
  • Invest it to save for retirement.
  • Take a vacation without debt.
  • Put down a down payment on a mortgage, and own your first home.
  • Avoid using a credit card for necessary expenses.
  • Avoid financial stress.

Final Thoughts

We recommend you try multiple ways to save money to get the most benefit and help you move toward truly living a better life.

What’s one way you save money and live better in life?

Jennifer Leach

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